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BATTLE OF ALBERTA: Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames

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Oilers meet provincial rivals for the first time this season.

Montreal Canadiens v Calgary Flames
Looking good!
Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Edmonton Oilers (20-16-4) 3rd, Pacific vs

Calgary Flames (19-15-5) 4th, Pacific

27 December 2019

Rogers Place

700 PM MST

TV: Sportsnet West

Radio: 630 CHED

SB Nation Opponent: Matchsticks and Gasoline

NUGGETS OF COAL

The Canucks had the lead in this one to start. But then, the Oilers took the lead! Everything is good! Until, the Canucks took the lead for good. Two points that the Oilers ought to have had were snatched from their gloves as the Vancouver Canucks took Monday’s contest by a 4-2 margin. It would be Quinn Hughes who would score the game winner on the power play midway through the third period. Three Canadian teams are squished together in the Pacific Division right now, and the Oilers are on top for the time.

Edmonton looks to open up a can tonight in this year’s first Battle of Alberta. A win would give them a little bit of breathing room from Calgary. A regulation loss would mean that Calgary and the Oilers would leapfrog the Flames over the Oilers in the standings. Can the Oilers grab two points tonight?

Let’s go to the tape.

THE OILERS ARE SAYING

“Usually when we’ve had to lead this year, we’ve held on well...We had our push; they just found a way to tie it up, and then the late penalty kind of killed us”

Source

That’s Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on his club’s 4-2 loss to the Canucks on Monday night.

Vancouver’s power play goal is what sunk the Oilers on Monday. Since the beginning of the season, the Oilers PK has drifted down to about 83%, which isn’t all that bad. The problem is that the Oilers were depending on special teams to seal the deal more often than not in the first two months.

THE FLAMES ARE SAYING

Everyone plays back-to-backs. You’ve got to sometimes manage yourself out there...If you’re not feeling it, try to make the easy play, the smart play and get it deep. I thought that we turned a few too many pucks over at their blue line and gave them opportunities to come back at us.

Source

That’s Flames goaltender Cam Talbot after his club’s 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

Though Talbot has a respectable .913 SV% on the year, he’s picked up just 3 wins in eleven appearances so far.

HAVE SOME OF THIS

  • Nearly halfway through the season, and it’s pretty apparent that...the Pacific is clear as mud. The good? The Oilers are just two points away from the lead. A win tonight can fix that. The not-so-good? There are five teams within four points. It’s crucial that the Oilers keep on top of those Canadian teams as much as possible. The top three in the Pacific are guaranteed playoff positions.
  • Tonight is the first night that the Oilers will see their old friend Milan Lucic. Lucic was shipped to Calgary in what I’m still going to call a blockbuster deal for James Neal. I am happy for Calgary, and I hope that whatever character that Milan Lucic brings offsets whatever deficiency they believed they had.
  • I’m not going to go an entire post without mentioning Connor McDavid. Dude has 62 points, which projects out to something ungodly like 130 at the end of the year. Maybe work in a fifteen minute break for him and Leon Draisaitl (61 points so far).
  • How’s Calgary doing? Yeah. They’re fifth-worst in scoring, averaging 2.59 goals a game. but they’re right in the middle when it comes to goals allowed (2.97 GA/G).
  • Along with being everyone’s favourite Flame, Matthew Tkachuk leads the Flames in scoring with 32 points (14-18-32) in 38 games. An irritant, he’ll be the one mucking it up with anyone he can tonight. Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are second and third in points respectively.
  • NET GAINS: The Oilers ought to roll with Mikko Koskinen tonight (13-7-2, .917 SV% / 2.66 GAA / 1 SO) , while I’d expect Calgary to give David Rittich the nod. (16-8-5, .915 SV% / 2.71 GAA / 2 SO).
  • SICK BAY: Matthew Benning is listed as out (head). For Calgary, defenceman Juuso Valimaki is out (knee)